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08th Feb 2021

What is graupel? Met Éireann explains ‘interesting type of frozen precipitation’ you might have seen today

James Fenton

If you’ve been outside today you’ll know that it’s absolutely baltic and by the looks of things, we’re only at the beginning of a very cold few days.

The Government’s Crisis Management Team has already issued a statement about what could lie ahead over the coming days with the potential for widespread snowfall on Thursday, which could lead to ‘considerable disruption.’

While snow has so far fallen in relatively small quantities, people are noticing a form of precipitation which they may not have encountered before. For those wondering, Met Éireann have shed light on the small droplets which they describe as ‘soft, small pellets formed when supercooled water droplets (at a temperature below 0°C) freeze onto a snow crystal, a process called riming. Graupel is also called snow pellets or soft hail, as the graupel particles are quite fragile & usually disintegrate when handled.’

The experts added that ‘further showers, some of graupel are expected overnight in the cold easterly air-flow.’

So there you have it. It’s not snow, it’s not sleet and it’s not hail (as hail is common in thunderstorms, not so much winter storms – we can do our research too, ya know.

Not that you’re aware, you can look forward to being the first to say it’s “graupeling outside” if this continues throughout the week. A full outlook for the coming days can be found here.

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(header pic: Shutterstock)